The Entrepreneur and the Engineer
Leonard spoke about building cathedrals, and other grand things--completely out of context. It was so unreal that I didn't take him seriously. 1
Our story begins with Leonard Parker Pool ( 1906-1975). Pool was a driven, decisive individual. His restless dreams and his determination were to give birth to a multinational, high-tech corporation with 1990 sales approaching $3 billion. But to understand Pool, we must go back in time to the era when railroads were king.
Railroads in the United States underwent massive expansion in the decades following the Civil War, as the West was settled and the country industrialized. The railroads became extraordinary business empires, consuming vast quantities of iron, steel, labor, and capital. They provided jobs and opportunity to tens of thousands, including the Pool family. In Leonard's first twenty years of life, railroads defined his world. It was a world of skilled mechanics, of engineering innovation, and of expanding opportunity.
Leonard's paternal grandfather, Ira G. Pool, was of English descent, part of the aristocracy of labor in late nineteenth-century America. Superintendent of the Soo Railroad shops in Minneapolis, he and his